Google, Facebook must be held accountable for criminal content – justice minister

Legislation being drafted to curb illegal online activities like incitement, child pornography, Ayelet Shaked says

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Large internet companies and content providers such as Facebook, Google and Twitter should be held accountable for criminal activity on their platforms, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said at a conference in Tel Aviv on Monday.

“We need to acknowledge the fact that some very severe crimes are being conducted and incited through those platforms — such that there should be some measure of accountability” regarding the illegal activities and content that is published through their services, declared Shaked, who said these large internet companies were an “area of focus” for her ministry.

The Justice Ministry is working on draft legislation “to order a removal” of certain content from websites that incite to terrorism, and other legislation to curb specific content, like the distribution of child pornography, for example, she said. “In each case we are talking about content and websites that reach a particularly high threshold of criminal severity,” she added.

Terrorist groups and organized crime are moving a substantial part of their activities online. “Cybercrime today is the fastest-growing criminal activity and the economic damage it causes surpasses other criminal activities,” Shaked said. “Cyberterrorism also poses a significant threat – cyberspace is used for incitement, radicalization, recruitment,” she said.

There also should be cooperation mechanisms with the government in place to enable these companies to be notified if a crime has been committed through their platforms so that they can deal with malicious content, she said. “The Justice Ministry is taking a leadership role in this — for example, we are promoting cooperation with content providers, sensitizing them as to content that violates Israeli law or providers’ term of service,” she said.

The ministry last year set up a dedicated cybercrime and cyberterrorism department to deal with child pornography and terrorism, she said.

Shaked spoke at the 6th Annual International Cybersecurity Conference, also known as Cyber Week, being held in Tel Aviv until June 24.

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